Honda Announces its First Mass-Market EV Named the 'Prologue', it Arrives in 2024
【Summary】Japan's Honda Motor Co today announced that its first electric vehicle will be an SUV named the “Prologue”, which marks the beginning of the company's transformation to becoming an electric automaker over the next two decades.
Automaker Honda today announced that its first electric vehicle will be an SUV named "Prologue", which marks the beginning of the company's transformation to becoming an electric automaker over the next two decades. Honda plans to offer only zero emission vehicles in North America by 2040, and the aptly named Prologue will be the first of many new electric models from the company.
The electric Prologue SUV will debut as a 2024 model.
Although Honda didn't release any photos of the Prologue, the automaker said it will share more details about the upcoming electric SUV over the coming months. Honda will also engage with customers throughout the launch starting with a new website at https://automobiles.honda.com/future-cars/prologue.
Honda says the battery-powered Honda Prologue will be highly competitive in the segment, with the functionality and reliability that Honda is known for. In addition to the Honda Prologue, the company will introduce an all-electric SUV under its luxury brand Acura in the 2024 calendar year.
Both vehicles will be built on a flexible global EV platform powered by Ultium batteries developed by General Motors as part of Honda's strategic partnership with the company.
Honda and GM first announced plans to work together on developing new EVs in Sept 2020. The two automakers will share vehicle platforms for fully-electric and combustion engine powered models. The goal is to accelerate innovation by combining resources for the development of next-generation vehicle technologies.
Honda most recently worked with GM on the development of the Origin autonomous shuttle for the U.S. automaker's autonomous driving division Cruise. The Origin was unveiled in Jan 2020. The vehicle is intended to be used as part of a planned commercial robotaxi service that GM aims to launch with Cruise.
The futuristic self-driving Origin shuttle was heavily engineered by Honda, with GM supplying the electric powertrain and Cruise tasked with developing the hardware and autonomous driving systems.
Honda also plans to launch a new series of EV models in the second half of the decade based on its new e:Architecture, which Honda led the development of.
"Our first volume Honda BEV will begin our transition to electrification and the name Honda Prologue signals the role it will play in leading to our zero-emission future," said Dave Gardner, executive vice president of American Honda. "The Prologue will provide our customers with a battery-electric SUV with the excellent functionality and packaging they've come to expect from Honda."
Honda global CEO, Toshihiro Mibe, shared his vision for the company in April, which includes a gradual phase out of combustion engine models over the next twenty years. The plan calls for the sales ratio of battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles in North America to progress from 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2035 to 100% by 2040.
Although Honda is late compared with its rivals that have already introduced battery powered models, the company was an early pioneer in hybrid and fuel cell technologies. Honda introduced the first hybrid vehicle in North America in 1999 when its launched the Insight. In 2017, Honda introduced the fuel cell powered Clarity.
As Honda prepares for the launch of 2024 Prologue, the company will introduce more hybrid-electric versions of its core models as the company transitions to electrification of its entire lineup.
"We know customers who have a good experience with a hybrid vehicle are more likely to buy a battery electric vehicle in the future," said Gardner. "Our strategy is focused on introducing a higher percentage of hybrids in core models in the near term, making a committed effort to achieve higher volume leading to the introduction of our Honda Prologue."
Honda's first EV will be part of a growing electric SUV segment, one of the most popular vehicle categories in the U.S. Honda will be competing with Tesla's Model Y, the Ford Mach-E, Hyundai Kona EV and IONIQ 5, BMW i4 and others.
Honda's transformation to electrification is well underway, as the company continues to post strong hybrid vehicle sales. Honda has just recorded its best-ever first-half year of electrified vehicle sales in 2021 led by the CR-V Hybrid and Accord sedan Hybrid. The gas-powered versions are already two of Honda's most popular models in the U.S. and the hybrid versions are luring in new customers making the switch from gasoline-only vehicles.
With Honda's reputation for quality and engineering, the upcoming Prologue has the potential to become a top-selling EV in the U.S.
To support Honda's electrification plans, the company is increasing spending on R&D. Honda will invest a total of approximately 5 trillion yen (US$46.3 billion) on R&D expenses over the next six years.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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